A Queen for the Engadine
Credit Suisse has been a main sponsor of White Turf since 1976. For the first time, the overall winner is a woman. Congratulations to Valeria Holinger! In addition to the prize money, she receives the Credit Suisse King's Cup. Sorry, the Queen's Cup.
The first two race weekends showed that this young woman is capable of anything. Now, on the third weekend, she has achieved the goal she's been working towards for years – she's "Queen of the Engadine." The 26-year-old from St. Moritz was the most successful rider on points in the Credit Suisse Skikjöring Trophy. In addition to the prize money, she now receives the Credit Suisse King's Cup, the trophy that the bank had especially created in 2016 for the 40th anniversary of the partnership between White Turf and Credit Suisse.
In the over one hundred years of White Turf's history, there have repeatedly been women – albeit just a few in number – who have managed to break into the male sphere of skikjöring. Around 1908, for example, women's skikjöring races were one of the special attractions on Lake St. Moritz. Wearing skirts but not helmets in those days, the ladies were pulled the length of the race track. Then, it took until 1983 for a woman to stand on the starting line again in the person of Hedy Danuser from Chur. However, she never reached the finish as she broke her foot during the race. Valeria Holinger's moment finally arrived in 2009: She had reached the minimum age of 18, and after passing the skikjöring exam, she could at last take part in White Turf. And she made it to the finish, the first step towards being overall winner, the "Queen." But Leta Joos from Samedan beat her to the first victory when she became the first woman to win a skikjöring race, in 2015.
But without the thoroughbred mare Usbekia – the second, secret queen – this success would not have been possible. After all, Holinger says, the skier's influence is only about 40 percent of the total. But even for this 40 percent, you have to be well prepared, something which is crystal clear to Holinger. Her father was an active skikjörer. Valeria took up riding when she was seven; this included racehorses when she was 14, and skikjöring at the age of 18. As a one-time International Ski Federation ski racer, Holinger also has the necessary expertise in this field. "During the race, you have to concentrate completely on steering the horse and not think about the skis on your feet," she told the "Zürcher Unterländer" newspaper in mid-February.
Now, Valeria Holinger has achieved a long-cherished dream. She is the first "Queen of the Engadine." We would like to congratulate her on this achievement. Our congratulations also go to the second- and third-placed riders and the rest of the field on their supreme athletic performances over the race weekends and the countless hours of training previously. We would like to thank the organizers for the excellent collaboration that we experience every year.